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Breaking down barriers: Building a gender diverse mining workforce in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region

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In the Columbia Basin-Boundary region of British Columbia (BC), mining has historically been a male dominated sector. Resource communities, such as those found in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region, have traditionally lacked employment opportunities for women. Women choosing to pursue careers in the mining sector can face numerous challenges. This research focussed on ways to break down barriers and build a more gender diverse mining workforce in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region. It also investigated the opportunities available to women in rural resource communities and the challenges they faced if they wanted to work in the mining sector. The research methods included semi-structured interviews, a literature review, and a document analysis. Results showed that in the Kootenay region there may be a shift in mining company culture. More progressive policies and respectful workplace culture seem to be creating a more gender inclusive mining sector. The results also showed significant challenges associated with community supports for women who wanted to enter the Kootenay mining workforce. These community supports included the lack of child care spots, high rental and real estate prices, and the lack of opportunities for further education.
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